24 essential Fallout 76 tips to know before you play

Fallout 76 tips

If Wastelanders has tempted you back or brought you in then some Fallout 76 tips might be in order to bring you up to speed. There's a lot to take in when you first start Fallout 76 and the MMO shape of things means things can operate a little differently to both more traditional games, and Fallout itself. 

With that in mind these Fallout 76 tips will help gain XP and caps, complete missions avoid starving or dying of thirst, pick the best perks and... well, yes, we said there was a lot to take in. Read on now for a guiding hand in the wilderness. 

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1. Remember to stay well fed and well hydrated

One of the biggest new features in Fallout 76 is its Thirst and Hunger meters. Don’t read that and panic - this isn’t hardcore survival: staying well-fed and well-hydrated simply improves you Action Point regeneration and your disease resistance, so don’t ignore the meters. If you make the ill-informed decision to neglect them you’ll find yourself more susceptible to disease as well as lacking in AP. Not good. As long as you have some Boiled Water or Crispy Squirrel Bits on hand you just need to make sure you eat them every real-time hour or so. Hover over items in the Aid section of your inventory and you’ll be able to see the percentage of Thirst or Hunger they refills, so as long as you choose what to eat carefully you won’t waste a Salisbury Steak on refilling 10% of your Hunger meter. 

2. Not all food gives you HP, and your food can spoil now

Yeah, you read that right. Food that’s harvested from mutated animals very rarely restores your HP, but they will restore your Hunger meter. A good rule of thumb is that things that have been boiled, canned, cooked, or are Pre-War will heal you, as well as the obvious Stimpacks or Healing Salve. Meat also spoils now, and you can tell how close it is to becoming gross (and very likely to disease you) by looking at its CND (condition) in your inventory. The lower the bar, the sooner it’ll be before it’s a pile of stinky icky muck. 

3. Wasteland food has a chance to carry a disease 

When you harvest meat from a Brahmin, Opossum, Molerat, or Mongrel Dog, if you look at it in your inventory you’ll see that the hunk of flesh has a Disease Chance percentage. So, if you eat it without cooking it first, just like in real life you then have a chance of contracting a disease. The older the meat, the more likely it is to infect you with something horrible, and that goes double for spoiled meat. To cure yourself you’ll need to find or craft a Disease Cure. So if you’re in the habit of gorging yourself on whatever’s in your inventory you’ll want to keep a few bottles handy. 

4. You get Atoms by completing challenges

When you begin Fallout 76 you can complete challenges by doing the smallest things: from collecting wood, to harvesting a plant, to killing your first robot, each small action completes a challenge and gives you some Atoms and a nice little fanfare. These Atoms are used for the Fallout 76 microtransactions that buy various cosmetic items. While it’s not clear how they translate into real money just yet, if you spend enough time completing challenges you’ll find yourself rolling in Atoms in no time. 


Seriously. You’ll need resources for crafting armour, weapons, chems, and mods (as well as  building) so your Junk quickly becomes worth its weight in gold. You might be accustomed to ignoring Hairbrushes, Toy Trucks, Gold-Plated Lighters, or Ball-Peen Hammers when you find them in anything from a Feral Ghoul’s pocket to a chest of drawers, but out of all these Fallout 76 tips the one you should take to heart is pick up everything. Later on you can break them down to use for weapons, or cannibalise them for building materials to bulk out your home base, but if there’s one thing I can guarantee it’s that you won’t regret having an inventory full of Junk. 

6. You get items as rewards for completing quests and public events

Gone are the days of just getting XP as a reward for completing quests: in Fallout 76 you get a bunch of items to congratulate you on a job well done. They can be a mix of ammo, Aid, Plans (recipes which let you craft new items), Caps, and Resources, so if you needed even more of an incentive to complete quests or join Public Events you’ve got it. 

7. For God's sake uncheck any missions you aren't doing

You can encounter missions almost anywhere in Fallout 76, from finding holo tapes, notes or even just places in the world. When you do it's added as an active mission to your log. That's useful in terms of not missing anything, but means you can end up losing the entire right hand side of the screen. Plus it'll litter your radar with objective markers making it almost impossible to find anything. So make sure you dip into the Data tab of your Pip-Boy to uncheck anything you're not actively perusing. That way you can focus on one thing at a time and prevent yourself drowning in things to do. 

8. Jumping uses AP

Bear this in mind when you’re leaping your way up a cliff face and encounter a pack of Feral Ghouls at the top and then can’t access your V.A.T.S. so you jump back down the cliff and lose a chunk of your health (definitely not based on a real-life experience of mine. Nope. Definitely not). 

9. Rest in bed to heal HP 

You can’t skip large swathes of time like in previous Fallout games, but one of the best Fallout 76 tips is to actually spend time sleeping. You quickly regenerate HP (takes about 10 seconds to restore it to max if you’re basically almost dead), and if you stay in bed for roughly 30 seconds you get the Rested perk. Being Rested gets you a beneficial status effect… but be careful: sleeping bags on the ground can carry Disease, which - yup, you guessed it - will infect you. 

10. Fast travel costs caps, although you can fast travel to friends, Vault 76 and your C.A.M.P. for free

Like Elder Scrolls Online, you have to pay to Fast Travel in Fallout 76. The cost will increase depending on how far away you are from your chosen destination, and you can travel to major areas without having discovered them first as long as there’s a public event nearby. In our experience so far it can cost anything from 1 caps to 24 caps to get to your location of choice, so early on in Fallout 76 when caps are semi-rare it’s worth planning your route across the wasteland to be as efficient and thrifty as possible. However, if you have friends on the map you can travel to them for free. Your C.A.M.P., and Vault 76 are also free to jump to. 

11. What’s the best starting perks?

Fallout 76 uses perk cards to flesh out your character’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. There’s a few options in the opening hours and what’s best will likely depend on your playstyle and if you’re alone or with friends. The Gladiator perk’s a good shout either way as it boosts one-handed melee weapon damage and you’ll likely be using those lot. While Concentrated Fire will open up limb targeting in V.A.T.S. if you want to shoot more. If you’re alone then Lone Wanderer is a must, as it means you take 10% less damage and gain 10% AP regen. If you’re playing with friends then Inspirational’s 5% team XP boost is great, as is Bodyguards which boosts damage & energy resist, stacking with the number of people on your team. 

12. Don’t worry too much about exploring at the beginning

Although it’s tempting to jump straight into the gaping maw of Appalachia as soon as you step through Vault 76’s door, don’t worry about exploring everywhere in sight instantly as you’ll see most of the opening areas in the early missions. However, once you leave the Vault head right (instead of left down the path) to get a gun straight away, and if you find the Wixon Homestead - which is on your way to Flatwoods, your first main quest destination - kill any Scorched you find there for a chance to loot some armor off of their cold, dead, irradiated bodies. 

13. You don't have to build a C.A.M.P. straight away 

One of the first things you pick up before you leave Vault 76 is your C.A.M.P., but you really shouldn’t try to build the home base of your dreams straight away as it costs a metric ton of resources to do so. Instead, in the early stages of the main quest you’ll come across the Overseer’s C.A.M.P., which has a weapons and armor workbench, stove, and Stash. It’s best to rely on that C.A.M.P. for the first handful of hours while you bulk out your resources and prepare for building your own base. When you do, make sure to take a look at our Fallout 76 CAMP tips to build your perfect dream home/impenetrable fortress.

14. Playing instruments gives you an AP regeneration boost

When you’re making your way down the path to Flatwoods, look to your left and you’ll come across a treehouse filled with instruments. Play one of them for a while and you’ll get a boost to your AP regeneration rate that lasts a whole hour. Perfect for when you’re preparing to take on a horde of Scorched and need to use V.A.T.S. more. It’s a status effect that’s well worth seeking out if you’re about to get in some serious S.H.I.T. (Super High Intensity Trouble), or just want to sprint absolutely everywhere. 

15. VATS is good for finding nearby enemies

Unlike other Fallout games, V.A.T.S. doesn’t slow down time because, you know, Fallout 76 is an online game. It will still target enemies and hit them according to stats though, and the Concentrated Fire Perception perk card will let you target limbs but all in real time - don’t expect it to get you out of trouble by freezing time and giving you a breather. But that doesn’t mean the mode is completely useless. Instead I recommend using V.A.T.S. to find enemies lurking nearby when you’re sneaking around, or hidden in cover, as when it gets dark it’s especially hard to spot the things that want to turn you into a bloody red splat on the ground. Especially Feral Ghouls. God, I hate Feral Ghouls. 

16. Bobby pins are super rare

Like Wonderglue in Fallout 4, Bobby Pins are rare as heck in Fallout 76. You can buy seven from the Volunteer Bot in Flatwoods early on, but otherwise you’re going to have a hard time finding them around the Wasteland. So be extra careful when picking any nearby locks as Bobby Pins are worth their weight in gold. 

17. You can leave holotapes playing and get on with stuff

Don’t worry about staying stuck in the same place while you’re waiting for someone’s tape to finish playing - in Fallout 76 you can have the voices of the dead (not as morbid as it sounds, promise) playing in the background while you explore or shoot your way across the Wasteland. In an online game time waits for no ex-Vault Dweller, so don’t bother dragging your heels when listening to holotapes. 

18. Don't be afraid to work with strangers 

With only 24 people per server, and a map that’s about 16 square miles big, it might take you a while to bump into another player. But when you do - especially if there’s a very large, very angry Grafton Monster or Scorchbeast nearby - try teaming up with them. Seeing if they reciprocate a friendly heart or thumbs up emote is a great way to figure out whether they’re more into teamwork than PvP, and then you can invite them to your team from the Social menu in the Fallout 76 map. Exploring with a buddy can give you the push you need to explore a Digger-infested mine or even take on a nuke silo, so don’t run in the other direction when you see a fellow Vault Dweller. 

19. Hacking and lockpicking perk cards are rare, so take them as soon as you can 

Hacking and lockpicking are two of the simple joys of Fallout games (come on, the sound of a lock unlocking is practically a natural high), but like in Fallout 4 you won’t be able to even attempt to unlock certain safes, doors, or terminals unless you have the right perk. So far we’ve spotted three levels of lockpicking and hacking, with everyone starting out at level 0. During the beta right I got up to level 13 and only came across one lockpicking and hacking perk card. So if you see one, grab it quick - chances are you won’t come across another one for a while. 

20. Always have wood scraps on hand so you can cook meat before it spoils

Meat and vegetables spoil in Fallout 76, so when you rip a Brahmin steak from its still-warm corpse, you’ll want to cook it sharpish. All you’ll need to cook it at a cooking station is some wood scraps, which you can get from fallen logs or log piles scattered across the world. Cooking meat will reduce any chance of contracting a disease from it and increase the HP you’ll get from shoving it in your face hole, so it’s definitely worth doing. 

21. Stock up on aluminium and copper so you can repair your weapons

Your guns will break in Fallout 76. That’s just a fact, and if you’re especially unlucky your favorite pea-shooter will shatter in the middle of a very tense fight. To fix them, you’ll need to have aluminium or copper on hand depending on which gun you’re fixing, as well as some steel and adhesive. Both copper and aluminium can be hard to come by in the wild, so if you see any aluminum cans or bone cutters around make sure to snap them up and store them in your Stash. 

22. Use VATS when you're overwhelmed to take down enemies quickly

VATS doesn’t slow down time anymore, but don’t let that stop you from using it. Instead in Fallout 76 VATS is a great way to quickly fire at enemies, as you get shown the percentage chance to hit your foe in real time. What that means is that you don’t have to bother aiming perfectly, instead hitting that trigger as soon as the percentage climbs high enough. Very handy in a pinch when you have three super mutants chasing you and your brain is wailing like a newborn. 

23. Do public events for some extra bonus rewards and the chance to make new buddies 

Public events will pop up regularly in Appalachia, and they’re not only a great chance to earn a handful of caps and some loot - they’ll also hook you up with some like-minded players if you’re feeling lonely, or bored, or both. Chances are that if you play through a Public Event with a stranger, they’ll be amenable for teaming up and adventuring together. Now doesn’t that just warm your heart? There’s a great variety too: you might be defending some water pipes from beasts, watching a daily parade, or killing some haywire farming robots. 

24. Caps are rare, so spend them wisely

This Fallout 76 tip is exactly what it says in the title: caps will not be raining down on you like nuclear fallout. The metal currency is pretty rare, with super mutants only having about 3 caps each on them (when they have caps at all), and the same goes for containers strewn about the wasteland. So instead of scavenging for caps, we encourage you to complete quests and public events, which often give you 30 - 90 caps a pop. Then you’ll be able to spend freely when you find a vendor bot or a fellow Vault Dweller who wants to figure out how to trade in Fallout 76

Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.